1

I would like a clarification regarding the terms Yoniso Manasikāra and Sammā sati with Sampajaññā. Is the meaning of these two:

  1. the same,
  2. totally different,
  3. somewhat similar with certain differences, or,
  4. are they used in different situations with contextual differences in meaning?
0
2

Yoniso manasikara is investigating or examining something for the purpose of either newly or thoroughly understanding it. For example:

  • SN 45.62 says yonisomanasikara is the forerunner and precursor for the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path; therefore yonisomanasikara is also the forerunner and precursor for the arising of the 7th factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, sammāsati.

  • Similarly, AN 10.61 says: "Hearing the good Dhamma... fills up careful attention; careful attention... fills up mindfulness and clear comprehension". Again, yonisomanasikara operates prior to sati-sampajanna.

  • Similarly, DN 18 says: "After some time they hear the teaching of the noble ones, properly attend to how it applies to them & practice accordingly. So aparena samayena ariyadhammaṃ suṇāti, yoniso manasi karoti, dhammānudhammaṃ paṭipajjati". Then, later on, DN 18 refers to the four satipaṭṭhānā.

  • Iti 16 says: "in regard to internal factors, I do not perceive another single factor so helpful as wise attention (yonisomanasikaro) for a bhikkhu who is a learner".

  • SN 12.10 provides an example where yoniso manasikara was used to discover dependent origination. Since dependent origination remained unknown or undiscovered, sati-sampajana could not be used because sati-sampajanna only brings to mind preexisting knowledge

  • While MN 95 does not use the term 'yonisomanasikara', it provides a similar explanation when it says: "Next, they place faith in them. When faith has arisen they approach the teacher. They pay homage, lend an ear, hear the teachings, remember the teachings, reflect on their meaning (upaparikkhato) and accept them after consideration."

Sati-sampajanna is the bringing to mind and keeping in mind past learned or realised knowledge/wisdom to a specific present situation. This is indicated in SN 45.62 & SN 45.62 quote above or otherwise unambiguously explained in SN 46.3 & MN 117 quoted below:

When one has heard the Dhamma from such bhikkhus one dwells withdrawn by way of two kinds of withdrawal—withdrawal of body and withdrawal of mind. Dwelling thus withdrawn, one recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over. Whenever, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwelling thus withdrawn recollects that Dhamma and thinks it over, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is aroused by the bhikkhu; on that occasion the bhikkhu develops the enlightenment factor of mindfulness; on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness comes to fulfilment by development in the bhikkhu.


One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view.

One is mindful to abandon wrong resolve & to enter & remain in right resolve: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right resolve.

One is mindful to abandon wrong speech & to enter & remain in right speech: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right speech.

One is mindful to abandon wrong action & to enter & remain in right action: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right action.

One is mindful to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter & remain in right livelihood: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness — run & circle around right livelihood.

Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? In one of right view, right resolve comes into being. In one of right resolve, right speech comes into being. In one of right speech, right action... In one of right action, right livelihood... In one of right livelihood, right effort... In one of right effort, right mindfulness... In one of right mindfulness, right concentration... In one of right concentration, right knowledge... In one of right knowledge, right release comes into being. Thus the learner is endowed with eight factors, and the arahant with ten.

In summary, SN 45.62 says yonisomanasikara is the forerunner for the arising of the Noble Eightfold Path. Where as MN 117 says sammasati is the 7th factor of the Noble Eightfold Path.

I will end with an example:

  1. When the mind is ignorant, it does not understand not referencing quotes is not only theft (plagiarism), but it also causes trouble for others. Therefore, such an ignorant mind must examine & reflect repeatedly until it understands the harm, evil, sinfulness & wickedness of not referencing quotes. This is the use of yonisomanasikara.

  2. Where as a mind with wisdom that knows referencing quotes is beautiful behaviour, may occasionally forget to reference a quote. Such a mind will quickly rectify this mistake using mindfulness & clear-comprehension. There is no need for this mind to use yonisomanasikaro because it has already understood the dhammic significance of the matter thoroughly.

2
  • 1
    Thanks a lot @Dhammadhatu. Your detailed answer with profuse quotes from the Nikayas has hewn the rough edges off my understanding. The nuanced explanations have helped me a lot. Thanks again for going to great lengths to help. 🙏 Feb 8 at 15:18
  • 1
    By the way the last example is rather mischievous. Hahahaha. Feb 8 at 15:24
1

Yoniso Manasikara can be spoken of as giving attention based on a correct comprehension of the senses & what the senses present.

Samma Sati is a path-factor, it is a bearing in mind and is the opposite of obliviousness.

One can be distracted from Yoniso Manasika and switch to giving inappropriate attention due to being deficient in spiritual faculties ie lacking the power of concentration [non-distractedness]. At that point one is not bearing in mind the correct apprehension and is oblivious to the truth.

Alternatively or one can be deficient in wisdom and be unable to give appropriate attention due to that lack of understanding.

“From inappropriate attention you’re being chewed by your thoughts. Relinquishing what’s inappropriate, contemplate appropriately. Keeping your mind on the Teacher, the Dhamma, the Saṅgha, your virtues, you will arrive at joy, rapture, pleasure without doubt. Then, saturated with joy, you will put an end to suffering & stress.” - SN 9.11

One can give an analogy of steering a ship.

One who is attentively keeping the ship on the right course is not oblivious [sati] to what needs to be given aporopriate attention and attends to it appropriately [yoniso manasikara] in order to keep on course.

Take an uneducated ordinary person who has not seen the noble ones, and is neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the noble ones. They’ve not seen good persons, and are neither skilled nor trained in the teaching of the good persons. They don’t understand to which things they should pay attention and to which things they should not pay attention. So they pay attention to things they shouldn’t and don’t pay attention to things they should.

Because of paying attention to what they should not and not paying attention to what they should, unarisen defilements arise and arisen defilements grow.

But take an educated noble disciple who has seen the noble ones, and is skilled and trained in the teaching of the noble ones. They’ve seen good persons, and are skilled and trained in the teaching of the good persons. They understand to which things they should pay attention and to which things they should not pay attention. So they pay attention to things they should and don’t pay attention to things they shouldn’t.

Because of not paying attention to what they should not and paying attention to what they should, unarisen defilements don’t arise and arisen defilements are given up.

They properly attend: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’. And as they do so, they give up three fetters: identity view, doubt, and misapprehension of precepts and observances. - MN 2

Misc on Sati;

Therein what is mindfulness-awakening-factor? Herein a monk is mindful, furnished with excellent mindfulness-penetration, he remembers, remembers constantly, what has long been done and long been said (concerning release). This is called mindfulness-awakening-factor. (1) - Vb 10

That which is mindfulness, recollection, recall, mindfulness, remembrance, bearing (in mind), not losing, not confusing, mindfulness, the Faculty of Mindfulness, the Strength of Mindfulness, Right Mindfulness: this is called ‘mindfulness.’ - Vb 7

The mindfulness which on that occasion is recollecting, calling back to mind; the mindfulness which is remembering, bearing in mind, the opposite of superficiality and of obliviousness; mindfulness as faculty, mindfulness as power, right mindfulness—this is the faculty of mindfulness that there then is. (abhihamma) - Ds 2.1.1

The Blessed One said, “Suppose, monks, that a large crowd of people comes thronging together, saying, ‘The beauty queen! The beauty queen!’ And suppose that the beauty queen is highly accomplished at singing & dancing, so that an even greater crowd comes thronging, saying, ‘The beauty queen is singing! The beauty queen is dancing!’ Then a man comes along, desiring life & shrinking from death, desiring pleasure & abhorring pain. They say to him, ‘Now look here, mister. You must take this bowl filled to the brim with oil and carry it on your head in between the great crowd & the beauty queen. A man with a raised sword will follow right behind you, and wherever you spill even a drop of oil, right there will he cut off your head.’ Now what do you think, monks: Will that man, not paying attention to the bowl of oil, let himself get distracted outside?” “No, lord.” “I have given you this parable to convey a meaning. The meaning is this: The bowl filled to the brim with oil stands for mindfulness immersed in the body. Thus you should train yourselves: ‘We will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, hand it the reins and take it as a basis, give it a grounding, steady it, consolidate it, and undertake it well.’ That is how you should train yourselves.” - SN 47.20

Suppose, monk, that there were a royal frontier fortress with strong walls & ramparts and six gates. In it would be a wise, experienced, intelligent gatekeeper to keep out those he didn't know and to let in those he did. A swift pair of messengers, coming from the east, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come. Then a swift pair of messengers, coming from the west... the north... the south, would say to the gatekeeper, 'Where, my good man, is the commander of this fortress?' He would say, 'There he is, sirs, sitting in the central square.' The swift pair of messengers, delivering their accurate report to the commander of the fortress, would then go back by the route by which they had come.

"I have given you this simile, monk, to convey a message. The message is this: The fortress stands for this body — composed of four elements, born of mother & father, nourished with rice & barley gruel, subject to constant rubbing & abrasion, to breaking & falling apart. The six gates stand for the six internal sense media. The gatekeeper stands for mindfulness. The swift pair of messengers stands for tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassana). The commander of the fortress stands for consciousness. The central square stands for the four great elements: the earth-property, the liquid-property, the fire-property, & the wind-property. The accurate report stands for Unbinding (nibbana). The route by which they had come stands for the noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration." - SN 35.204

2
  • Thank you for your answer and reference ! May you be well. Feb 6 at 16:45
  • 1
    Thanks @deadmanposting for the answer. However, even though you have given a detailed explanation as to what sati is, and I totally agree, yoniso manasikara still remains a little obscure. Feb 7 at 2:56
-1

B. Thanissaro answers the question here: https://notesonthedhamma.blogspot.com/2021/02/faq-what-is-difference-between-yoniso.html

(contains long excerpt from his book and essay)

3
  • Thanks a lot @frankk. The explanation given by Rev Thanissaro B. Is absolutely brilliant. I think , I have been able to grasp the subtle difference clearly, even though conceptually. Through you, I must thank him too for clearing my doubts. My hand folded pranam to Rev Thanissaro B. 🙏🙏🙏 Feb 8 at 8:24
  • This answer violates the site policy on own personal site promotion - please see this Buddhism Meta SE question and its answers, as well as this page to understand the policy. 1) You need to paraphrase, summarize or partially quote the content of the link in the answer. 2) The user need not have to click into the link to benefit from the answer. 3) The link is only there to support the answer. 4) You must disclose yourself as the author of the linked site. Please update this answer.
    – ruben2020
    Feb 8 at 10:09
  • this site policy can suck it. I'd gladly just cut and paste from my blog and post the entire post on here, but the hyperlinks citing original article sources that I cite often don't make it, as well as html formatting. I provided a useful answer, the OP was happy. I'm not going to waste a single second of my valuable time beyond that.
    – frankk
    Feb 10 at 13:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.